It’s a Dog’s Life

I’ve been wondering what on earth I’ve been doing with my time recently. The first three weeks of term have slipped by already without me achieving much.

This week, I’m using the dog as my excuse. Pip has been learning to hang out inside without wandering around and without stealing whatever he can lay his paws on. And it’s involved some surprisingly intensive work from me. Lots of making him come and lie down on his towel instead of meandering around sticking his nose in things. Lots of reinforcement of the idea that inside’s for resting, not for charging around. And most of all, endless iterations of ‘off, off, off,’ followed by rewards and the substitution of a chew toy or his fancy food ball thingy, to get him to give up objects willingly. He was playing keep away and even growled a couple of times when we tried to rescue socks. So I’ve been working hard to instill the idea that giving up things leads to positive outcomes, and to keep him focused on his own toys. I’m noticing a huge improvement after two or three days of effort. He’s a clever boy.

It’s work to train a dog and keep him trained. We’re all new at this, so we had no idea about all the different things dogs need to learn before they can be happy and pleasurable participants in family life. Cats are much easier – they just train you.

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